A few interesting items caught my eye in this mornings papers. This game means a whole lot more than it did 3 weeks ago. The struggles that offense has seen from UW to Stanford to today make for some sufficient nail biting today.
Arizona coach Mike Stoops made the comment: "We look at USC as a hungry and mad team." That may true on his end but how does the team see it on our end? I am not looking for fireworks today, I want to solid, consistent play. Its been well documented that Coach Carroll is averse to change unless he has no choice but it might be the time to throw caution to the wind and take a look at some other players in prominent roles.
The receivers are obviously the most disturbing:
Turner also made some outstanding plays and caught a team-best nine passes for 83 yards.
"Everything that comes to me, I should get," said Turner, who has a team-leading 25 receptions. "When I don't, that's on me."
Freshman David Ausberry, who did not catch a pass against Stanford, said receivers were aware of the scrutiny from the media and fans, but were not affected by it.
"We'll get better, things are going to turn around," he said. "We're not really worried about people talking."
It doesn't happen often but when my performance has been questioned within my organization the desired effect was achieved and things improved. Like I have said in the past someone needs to get in these guys' face. But that is not the only reason, Coach Morton needs to find a way to break through with these guys and improve their development. That is solely on him.
The question I which offense will show up? There have been a lot of comments on CC in regards to the Booty/Sanchez controversy. I am not one who thinks Sanchez will the savior right off the bat, but I do think his mobility will bring a new wrinkle to the offense that AZ will have to adjust to.
Even some of the players see a bit of a difference in practice this week.
"He's been preparing for this day for a long time," Havili said. "He's going to bed early, staying really focused since Monday. He doesn't come home until 9:30 from watching film. It's definitely a good sign."
Havili said that in addition to having to calm down Sanchez now and then, he's just as excited as the player who gets his first start at quarterback today when the Trojans take on Arizona at the Coliseum.
"I'd say we both have to tone each other down," Havili said. "We both take time getting hyped."
This coming off of Havili's comments earlier in the week where he thought the team practiced without a sense of urgency.
For the most part I have not been hard the defense because they have been fairly consistent even with the injuries they have suffered. My only complaint is the lack of turnovers that is plaguing the defense. Some of that has to do with the offense not having a big play threat that can score in the blink of an eye. If SC just plods along opposing offenses just don't need to take the risks that we have been used to seeing in the past. A good example of that was in the Nebraska game where Keller needed to make something happen and he did exactly what we thought he would do, force plays and make mistakes.
That being said the defense is also feeling a bit of heat as I noticed in yesterdays article by Wolf.
Even within the program, some pointed out none of the four captains - quarterback John David Booty, offensive tackle Sam Baker, defensive end Lawrence Jackson and linebacker Keith Rivers - are particularly vocal players.
But Jackson took exception to that characterization Thursday.
"To say our captains aren't vocal or doing a good job is ridiculous," he said. "Why does someone have to be loud to get the point across?
"Do you want to see me pull Sedrick (Ellis) or Kyle (Moore's) shirt? You don't have to be rah-rah guy to be a captain. You can get the point across without yelling.
"You've got a defense full of fifth-year seniors, how much leadership do you need?"
That is obviously up for some debate. You can never have enough leadership! These kids are under a tremendous amount of pressure and all the education in the world at their age could never be a substitute for real life experience. I would agree that the point can be made without yelling but I would say in response that the current philosophy of the quiet man isn't exactly getting the results that we expect. Some of these guys stayed the extra year because they wanted another chance at the title, I would say that maybe a small change in that philosophy and make the most of it. Sometimes a little change is needed.
Like I said in the opening sentence this game means a lot more now then it did a few weeks ago. A good showing today goes a long way to settling the nerves of the fans but it also will go a long way to reinforcing the teams confidence in itself and the coaching staff.
We'll see how it goes.